Friday, August 8, 1997
Doan guilty, jury declares

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Vincent Doan sheds a tear after hearing the guilty verdict against him.
(Gary Landers photo)
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WILMINGTON, Ohio - As the first verdict was read Thursday, Vincent Doan smiled, started to cry and looked visibly relieved at hearing the words, "not guilty."

Carrie Culberson
Carrie Culberson
But his demeanor rapidly changed with the reading of the next verdict: guilty of aggravated murder for kidnapping and killing former girlfriend Carrie Culberson. The first verdict had found him not guilty of plotting the murder.

The 12 jurors will reconvene later in Clinton County Common Pleas Court to decide whether he should die for his crimes. He faces a minimum sentence of 25 years without parole for killing Ms. Culberson last August in their hometown of Blanchester.

As the complicated jury verdict was read Thursday afternoon in the tense courtroom, Mr. Doan shook his head, then hung it briefly. Whispers of "Oh, God!" and "Yes!" rippled across the courtroom as Ms. Culberson's family and friends nodded in approval, while Mr. Doan's family and friends silently shook their heads.

Outside the courthouse, car horns honked as the verdict was played live on the radio.

"We are obviously pleased with the verdict. We are pleased for the Culberson family," County Prosecutor William Peelle said later.

As Mr. Doan left the courthouse, he told reporters: "I'm innocent." His attorney John Rion, said he will appeal.

"He was pretty numb. He's in disbelief," Mr. Rion said of his client.

Jurors believed testimony that, early Aug. 29, Mr. Doan punched Ms. Culberson in the face and said, "I told you the next time I'd kill you," as they argued near Mr. Doan's house.

Prosecutors said Mr. Doan drove around the area aimlessly, called his father, then returned to a dying Ms. Culberson, who was in her car.

Jurors were told Mr. Doan cradled Ms. Culberson as she bled to death. What happened to Ms. Culberson's body and her red 1989 Honda CRX remains a mystery.

The jurors - six men and six women - came back with their verdict four days into deliberations and four weeks after the trial began. They were excused by the judge, who instructed them not to discuss the case or read any accounts of the trial because they must reconvene for sentencing.